They say that all is fair in love and war. We at the Identity Theft Resource Center beg to differ. Rarely does a day go by that our victim advisors do not a field a call from someone who has fallen for a sweetheart scam. A sweetheart scam is when an identity thief creates and then exploits a romantic relationship with some vulnerable soul out there who is looking for love. Mostly an identity thief will use the Internet as their means of finding a victim. Unfortunately, with the increased popularity of online dating sites, this type of scam is becoming all too common.

The scam is very easy to run and is therefore incredibly popular. All a thief has to do is sign up for an online dating account. There are plenty of dating sites love and warout there and unfortunately, none are immune to being exploited by someone running a sweetheart scam. Once a thief has signed up for an an account they will create a fake persona. Usually this fake persona will resemble that of someone who seems "too good to be true". All a thief has to do then is search the site for individuals they think will be good targets. A thief will look at things like income and physical attributes to determine who will most likely fall for their scam and also who will provide the biggest return. Of course, location doesn't matter as the thief never plans on actually meeting the victims. In fact, the thief is most likely not in the United States.

Once the thief has chosen their victim, they will begin to court the individual. In order to do this they can search for the victims social networking accounts to find out what the victim is interested in and feign interest in those subjects as well. The thief will pay constant attention to the victim and feed into their desire for a relationship. Things usually move quickly from there and before they know it, the victim is being asked to help the thief. Situations the thieves use to request financial help from their victims include being mugged in a foreign country, a sick family member whose medical bills are running too high for the thief to pay, or even money to buy a ticket to see the victim. Thieves who run sweetheart scams are becoming increasingly creative and manipulative and it never ceases to amaze us what they continue to come up with.account they will create a fake persona. Usually this fake persona will resemble that of someone who seems "too good to be true". All a thief has to do then is search the site for individuals they think will be good targets. A thief will look at things like income and physical attributes to determine who will most likely fall for their scam and also who will provide the biggest return. Of course, location doesn't matter as the thief never plans on actually meeting the victims. In fact, the thief is most likely not in the United States.

Usually the thief will start with a smaller amount of money in order to get the victim invested in their relationship. The thief will usually ask that the money be sent Western Union. If the money is sent via wire like it is with Western Union, the victim can be sure they will never see that money again. The thief usually will not disappear after they have received this first round of funds. They will stick around and continue to work the victim, always asking for more money. It is only when the victim comes to realize that they are a victim and confronts the thief that the thief will disappear. The victim is then left with not only a broken heart, but an empty wallet as well.

Though there is the risk for sweetheart scams to occur on online dating sites, that doesn't mean you have to stay away from them entirely. In fact, these sites can often lead to happy long lasting relationships if users are aware of the risk and take measures to protect themselves.

If you found this information helpful, you may want to consider taking part in the Identity Theft Resource Center's Anyone3 fundraising campaign.  For more information or to donate please visit http://www.idtheftcenter.org/anyone-3

 

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